Sunday, June 29, 2014

Moon Curser adds Arneis to its distinctive portfolio

Photo: Moon Curser's Beata and Chris Tolley

Few Okanagan wineries are more given to exploring varieties not mainstream to the valley than Moon Curser Vineyards of Osoyoos.

It was the first to release both Tannat, the predominant red in Uruguay, and Touriga Nacional, Portugal’s leading red. It has an Italian red called Dolcetto in its vineyards.

And this spring owners Chris and Beata Tolley have released the Okanagan’s first Arneis. Chris’s ancestry includes northern Italy, accounting for his interest in varieties from that region.

Jancis Robinson (and colleagues), in Wine Grapes, calls this varietal “Piemonte’s scented and full-bodied signature dry white.”

The book, with details on 1,368 varietals, says that “Arneis virtually disappeared in the early 1970s.” Only two producers were bottling it. “However, it was saved from extinction by a welcome revival of white Piemonte wines in the 1980s. The wines are generally unoaked, subtly fruit-scented, full-bodied and tasting of ripe pears but can lack acidity, especially when later picked; best drunk young.”

Since its revival in Italian vineyards, Arneis has been planted in Australia, New Zealand, California and Oregon. The acreage is seldom large but should grow as the variety is exposed to consumers.

Here are notes on Moon Curser’s Arneis and on its other releases this year.

Moon Curser Vineyards Arneis 2013 ($22 for 141 cases). This is believed to be the first Piedmont produced in Canada. It is an interesting wine, with aromas of apples and honeysuckles. The palate is generous, with flavours of pear and melon and with a slight touch of anise on the dry finish. 90.

Moon Curser Vineyards Afraid 2013 ($21.90).  This is the winery’s delicious Rhone white – a blend of 44% Roussanne, 37% Viognier and 19% Marsanne. It begins with aromas of tangerine and apricots, delivering flavours of stone fruits, melon and apples, with a spine of minerality supporting a rich texture and bold (14.1%) alcohol. A wine with power, it has a crisp finish. 91.

Moon Curser Vineyards Viognier 2012 ($28). The 14.3% alcohol declared on the label is the first clue that this is a ripe Viognier that benefitted from plenty of hang time to develop maximum flavour. Aromas of apricot, tangerine and ripe bananas explode from the glass. On the palate, there are flavours of apricot, with touches of orange, pineapple and spice. The finish is dry with just a trace of warmth from the alcohol, nicely balanced with the rich texture of the wine. 91.

Moon Curser Vineyards Nothing to Declare Rosé 2013 ($21.90 for 119 cases). This is a Syrah rosé made by the saignée method. Twenty-six hours of skin contact has given this quite a dark hue. On the nose, there are aromas of plum, cherry and  mulberry.  The wine is packed with flavours of cherry and strawberry. The wine, which finishes dry, has the weight and texture of Beaujolais, with rather soft acidity. 88.

Moon Curser Vineyards Border Vines 2011 ($25 for 1,805 cases). This is the winery’s flagship red, a blend of  38% Malbec, 25% Cabernet Franc, 24% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Carmenère. Almost black in colour, it begins with aromas of cassis and spice, leading to flavours of blueberry and lingonberry, framed by notes of oak, chocolate and vanilla. The bright acidity and firm texture suggest this is a good candidate for cellaring for several years. 88-90.

Moon Curser Vineyards Dead of Night 2011 ($38). This is 50% Syrah and 50% Tannat, both from estate vineyards. This is an inspired blend, with complex aromas of black cherry, plum, vanilla and earth. On the bold palate, there are flavours of black cherry, mulberry and black currant, with peppery, smoky and gamey notes. This is such an expressive wine that it should be matched with boldly flavoured foods, like lamb or venison. 91.

Moon Curser Vineyards Pinot Noir 2012 ($28.90). This is a big ripe wine with aromas of spicy cherry and strawberry. On the palate, there are flavours of strawberry and raspberry. The texture is firm but is evolving toward a silky finish. 88.

Moon Curser Vineyards Carmenère 2012 ($38 for 192 cases). This is a wine of remarkable intensity, beginning with bold black pepper in the aroma and on the palate. On the palate, there are earthy flavours mixed with prunes and black currants. This wine demands full-flavoured foods. 88.

Moon Curser Vineyards Syrah 2012 ($25). Here is a big, juicy Syrah, with generous flavours of plum, black cherry and vanilla. There is a touch  both of earthiness and of white pepper. 90.

Moon Curser Vineyards Tempranillo 2012 ($29 for 260 cases). Dark in colour, the wine declares itself with bold aromas of blackberry, black cherry and vanilla. On the palate, there is a lovely core of sweet fruit flavours, including blackberry and cherry, along with leather and spice and ripe tannins. The finish lingers. 91.

Moon Curser Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 ($28.90 for 609 cases). Somewhat lean and tangy, this reflects south Okanagan Cabernet in a cool year. It begins with aromas of mint and black currant. On the palate, there are flavours of red berries, with spice, tobacco and cedar on the finish. This reminded me of a Cabernet from Coonawarra in Australia. 87.

Moon Curser Vineyards Merlot 2011 ($25 for 607 cases). The wine begins with bright red berry and vanilla aromas. On the palate, there are notes of black currant and cherry. The initial firm structure led me to revisit the second half of the bottle on the second day. With exposure to air, the wine filled out dramatically and was much richer on the palate. The lesson: use a decanter. 89.

Moon Curser Vineyards Petit Verdot 2011 ($29 for 175 cases). The colour, as is typical for the variety, is profoundly dark. The aromas are dramatic, with some floral notes (violets) and with ripe fruit aromas of blackberry and plum. There is a hint of mocha in the background. On the palate, the flavours include plum, cherry, cola and liquorice. The structure is still a bit firm but it should be; this wine will age very nicely for five to seven years. 92.


S. Rose said...

I bought several bottles of that 2008 Tannat (branded Twisted Tree at the time) on the recommendation of a VQA Store pro, and promptly forgot that I had it. One night we found it and opened one and- astounded by the quality- a few months later we were in Uruguay for no other reason than to taste the local versions, which are hard to find in North America and impossible to find in BC. Great trip. The wine is *the* *tits* and in fact more approachable than any of the Uruguayan ones we had while there, or since. I regret that they aren't bottling a 100% Tannat any longer but look forward to trying more of what they are doing now. +1

Unknown said...

Thank you very much for this - we so enjoyed reading about your affection for our Tannat, absolutely made our day. We only bottled two vintages of our tannat by its lonesome (2007 and 2008) and then started blending it with Syrah for our Dead of Night in 2009 and subsequent years. We find there is a great synergy between those two grape varieties and we love the result. We could not, however, resist bottling a little bit (170 cases) of the 2012 Tannat by itself , it was such a terrific vintage. The wine will likely be released in the fall, and it is our hope that you will be able to taste it -please let us know if you would like to and we'll make it happen. Cheers for now, and a big thank you to John Schreiner for all the nice things he said about our wines in this post!!

S. Rose said...

Mos' def' I'd love to try the 2012. As it happens, we drank the last bottle of the 2008 last night at Pidgen ($1 corkage night FTW) where it attracted a bit of positive attention from staff.

I love JS's unwaveringly positive and insightful service to the BC winemaking and wine drinking communities. We are lucky to have him.

Unknown said...

very true about John. And this despite the fact that the scope of his mission has changed so incredibly much over the last decade or so - new wineries galore and wine industry changes a-pending. I know this blog is a great resource to us for staying current - both as wine drinkers and wine makers.

We plan on releasing the '12 tannat in early october, please drop us a line if interested. We will be sending samples to John for review, of course, so this will be another way to find out when released…Cheers.